Day: 24 August 2021

News Round-Up

FDA Approval of Pfizer Covid Vaccine Will Lead To More Vaccine Mandates, Says Dr. Fauci

Rather than allow the full approval of the Pfizer Covid vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to simply persuade otherwise sceptical Americans that the jab is safe for use, businesses and universities are likely to use it as an excuse to introduce vaccine mandates, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. The Chief Medical Advisor to Joe Biden says “you’re gonna see a lot more mandates because there will be institutions and organisations which previously were reluctant to require vaccinations, which will now feel much more empowered to do that”. MailOnline has the story.

In an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he thinks approval will help push more Americans to get the Covid vaccine because it might reduce their fears about the safety of the shot.  

But he added that businesses and schools may feel more comfortable requiring workers or students to get a jab that has full authorisation.

“You’re gonna see a lot more mandates [from a range of] institutions…

“That could be organisations, businesses, colleges, universities. We’re even seeing it with the military already.”

However, mandates are a contentious topic with many states outright banning laws that would require workers to be vaccinated. …

Fauci referenced a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation that found three in ten unvaccinated adults said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if one of the vaccines were fully approved.

“I think that’s gonna be an important group because if you talk about 30% of the unvaccinated, that’s a lot of people,” he told Morning Joe.

About 90 million Americans who are eligible to get the Covid vaccine have not yet done so, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …

At a news conference on Monday morning, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed that the full approval will lead to COVID-19 vaccines being mandated for the U.S. military. 

“Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved, the Department is prepared to issue updated guidance requiring all service members to be vaccinated. A timeline for vaccinated completion will be provided in the coming days,” he said. 

And Louisiana State University President William Tate announced two weeks ago that the school will mandate that students receive the vaccine following full FDA authorisation. 

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: President Joe Biden has called on U.S. companies to introduce Covid vaccine mandates, saying: “Require it. Do what I did last month. Require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements.”

Isn’t it Time the Woke Boys in Blue Started Policing Our Streets, Not Our Tweets?

I’ve written a piece for Mail+ today about the new rainbow-coloured patrol cars the British police have introduced in an effort to tackle hate crime. As you can imagine, I’m not particularly enthusiastic about this initiative. Here is an extract:

The decision by UK police to replace patrol vehicles with ‘hate crime cars’ – which are decorated with rainbow colours and emblazoned with the word ‘Pride’ – is like something out of a W1-style satire about ‘woke’ British policing.

Are the police really devoting resources to spray-painting their vehicles with rainbows when only 7% of violent crimes end up being prosecuted? And it isn’t just stabbings that go unpunished. I was burgled last week and the thieves made off with my teenage daughter’s laptop, containing all her A-level photography work.

The police didn’t turn up until the following day – mercifully not in a unicorn car – at which point they told us nothing could be done. However, we did get a nice email from them containing our ‘crime reference number’ and an assurance that “the Metropolitan Police stands against any form of discrimination”.

Does that include discriminating against criminals by arresting them?

Worth reading in full.

Nicola Sturgeon Once Again Refuses to Rule Out Further Lockdowns

Not for the first time, Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that Scotland could be plunged into yet another lockdown due to rising ‘cases’, saying that the country is now at a “fragile and potentially pivotal moment”. The National has the story.

Speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said the daily case figure [of 4,323 on Tuesday] is “the largest we have ever recorded in a single day”.

She said new cases in Scotland have more than doubled in the past week, making this “one of the sharpest rises we have experienced at any point during the pandemic”.

And she warned Scotland is now at a “fragile and potentially pivotal moment” in the fight against the virus as vaccinations have weakened the link between cases and serious harm but not completely broken it.

“Even with vaccination we can’t be totally relaxed about this surge in cases,” Sturgeon said.

“The link between new cases and serious health harms has weakened significantly but it has not been completely broken.

“That means the rise in cases in the last week may well result in people having to go to hospital in the coming days and perhaps requiring intensive care treatment and unfortunately a rise in cases like… I consider likely to be the case in an increase in the number of people dying. 

“This means that if this surge continues and if it accelerates and if we start to see evidence of a substantial increase in serious illness as as result we cannot completely rule out having to reimpose some restrictions.” …

During the briefing the First Minister said she wanted life in Scotland to remain “normal” and that large scale outdoor events were less a cause for concern than indoor events.

She also suggested schools remaining open would be a priority for her Government. …

She added: “In terms of the restrictions that are still in place with schools [with secondary pupils required to wear face masks in class] we said the basic mitigations would be in place for at least six weeks after the return of schools…

“So we are not yet at the point of formally reviewing… we will keep mitigations in place for as long as we think is necessary to provide protection for young people and staff in schools but for no longer than we judge as necessary.”

Worth reading in full.

Postcard From Manila

We’re republishing an email today about life in Manila that originally appeared in the email newsletter of Tom Woods, host of the Tom Woods Show. The author, Kyle Helke, wrote a “Postcard From Manila” for Lockdown Sceptics earlier this year, so we’re happy to be publishing a follow-up. Things definitely haven’t improved in the Philippines, which now boasts the longest continuous lockdown in the world! Here’s an extract:

Here in the Philippines, it’s as if time stopped in April of last year. Still, you must wear both a face mask and shield when you leave your house. Still, children under 18 and senior citizens are technically not allowed to leave their houses (although this summer that loosened up a bit, but after two weeks the ‘Delta’ variant put an end to that). Still, schools are closed. Still, you must have a negative PCR/antigen test to travel to the next province, book a flight, or stay a night in a hotel. Still, gyms, theaters, cultural institutions, and outdoor sites (such as the American Memorial Cemetery – a cemetery!) are closed. Still, upon entering every shop or workplace one is subjected to a temperature check and a contact tracing form. Still, most restaurants are take-out or are reduced to 50% capacity (only on the lowest-level lockdown). Still, people think that if everyone ‘just gets the vaccine’, Covid will just go away and all of this will be over. Still, what is considered the longest lockdown in the world continues. Indeed, what is happening in places like France and Australia is very alarming, but it is frustrating to see that the Philippines is never acknowledged for its continued brutish restrictions that have been imposed as a result of the de facto martial law that has reigned over this country since all of this began. At least in other places, people are beginning to question the narrative; there isn’t even a shred of that here, people are too scared of the Government (and of catching Covid).

Worth reading in full.

The Latest Paper From Neil Ferguson et al. Defending the Lockdown Policy is Out of Date, Inaccurate and Misleading

Neil Ferguson’s team at Imperial College London (ICL) has released a new paper, published in Nature, claiming that if Sweden had adopted U.K. or Danish lockdown policies its Covid mortality would have halved. Although we have reviewed many epidemiological papers on this site, and especially from this particular team, let us go unto the breach once more and see what we find. The primary author on this new paper is Swapnil Mishra.

The paper’s first sentence is this:

The U.K. and Sweden have among the worst per-capita Covid mortality in Europe.

No citation is provided for this claim. The paper was submitted to Nature on March 31st, 2021. If we review a map of cumulative deaths per million on the received date then this opening statement looks very odd indeed:

Sweden (with a cumulative total of 1,333 deaths/million) is by no means “among the worst in Europe” and indeed many European countries have higher totals. This is easier to see using a graph of cumulative results:

But that was in March, when the paper was submitted. We’re reviewing it in August because that’s when it was published. Over the duration of the journal’s review period this statement – already wrong at the start – became progressively more and more incorrect:

Students Need Help Addressing “Socialisation Issues” Following More Than a Year of Lockdowns, Says University Official

Having been cooped up in their bedrooms for much of the past 18 months, teenagers who are about to begin university need help addressing “socialisation issues”, according to an English university official. Universities will also have to give catch-up sessions to help make up for the amount of learning lost during school closures. The i has the story.

Last month, the London School of Economics and the University of Exeter estimated that pupils lost nearly a third of their learning time between March 2020 and April 2021 because of school closures and coronavirus disruption.  

With many schools unable to complete the full A-level curriculum, students were only assessed this summer on the topics they had covered. 

To make sure students will be able to complete their undergraduate courses, universities are therefore having to step in to bridge the learning gaps. 

The elite Russell Group of universities has teamed up with the Open University to launch ‘Jumpstart University’ – a free resource designed to help students settle into university. 

The platform – which is open to students in all universities – has subject-specific courses, and modules on study skills, student life, wellbeing and mental health. …

An official working for a university in the South of England told i that they were expecting to deliver “remedial work with a lot of students”.

“They cannot help but have had some of their intellectual and other development hindered by being at home for two years at such a critical part of their education. 

“We certainly noticed at the start of last year, some students had problems typical entrants didn’t have.” 

With the 2021 cohort experiencing disruption over two school years, catch-up would have to be provided “across the whole year” to make up for the amount of learning lost, they said. 

The source said universities would have to address “socialisation issues” as well as academic study. “If you’re locked away from age 16 to 18… if we’re back to normal by October, you’ve gone from a period of being locked down for almost two years, to something like as much freedom as you’re ever likely to get.” …

With student unions planning traditional freshers’ week activities for the first time since 2019, there are also concerns some students may over-indulge after two school years in which socialising was strictly limited.

Worth reading in full.

July’s Age-Standardised Mortality Rate Was Equal to the Five-Year Average

The ONS announced on Monday that there were 40,467 deaths registered in England in July, which is 4.8% more than in June, and 7.6% more than the five-year average. In fact, the number of deaths registered in England was above the five-year average in all four weeks of last month.

These increases make sense, given that there has been a small uptick in COVID-19 deaths associated with the ‘Delta wave’. Although COVID-19 was only the ninth leading cause of death in July, deaths from the first eight causes were all below their five-year averages.

However, because the English population is ageing, the absolute number of people at risk of dying each year is going up. You’d therefore expect to see a greater number of deaths each year, even without a pandemic. What’s more, people who die from COVID-19 tend to be slightly older than those dying of other causes, so the average COVID-19 death is associated with fewer life-years lost.

For these reasons, it’s more informative to track age-adjusted measures of mortality. In July, the age-standardised mortality rate was only 1.3% higher than in May, and was approximately equal to the five-year average. (The exact figure was marginally higher, but the percentage difference was only 0.4%.)

This chart from the ONS shows the age-standardised mortality rate for the first seven months of the year, each year, going back to 2001:

Although 2021’s figure was higher than the figure for 2019, it was 3.6% lower than the figure for 2015 and 2.0% lower than the figure for 2018. This means that – despite higher-than-expected mortality in the winter – the overall level of mortality in the first seven months of 2021 was still lower than three years before.

As a matter of fact, the age-standardised rate from January through July was only 0.8% higher than the five-year average. Another month without many excess deaths and 2021 will officially be an ‘average year’ for English mortality.

More Than Half of Care Homes Could Be Forced to Sack Staff Over Mandatory Covid Vaccination

Plans to make vaccination against Covid mandatory for care home workers could force six in 10 care facilities to fire some of their staff who refuse to get ‘jabbed’, according to new estimates. The Telegraph has the story.

The Department for Health and Social Care has ordered all care home staff to receive their first dose of a Covid vaccine by September 16th so they are fully vaccinated by the time regulations come into force on November 11th. 

This means staff – apart from those who are exempt for medical reasons – will be banned from working in care homes if they are not double-jabbed by the deadline. 

The Government has previously estimated that its mandatory vaccination policy will result in around 40,000 care home staff – 7% – either quitting or being sacked, costing the embattled sector £100 million to replace.

However, new data seen by the Telegraph suggest that 60% of care home managers believe they will be forced to sack staff based on current vaccination rates, with some seeing up to 20 carers already quitting. 

One manager told the Telegraph that the pressure to force staff into receiving a vaccine is tantamount to “moral blackmail” which “infringes on their human rights”. 

The Institute of Health and Social Care Management (IHSCM) surveyed 530 care home managers across the U.K. and found 318 said they would be forced to sack staff by November 11th based on current vaccination rates. 

Around 35% of managers expect they will lose between 1-5% of staff, 19% fear they will lose between 6-10% of carers, and 4.11% believe they will lose between 11-15% of staff.

However, as many as 3.9% of managers fear they could lose up to a fifth of their workforce, with between 16 and 20% of carers missing the November deadline.

Worth reading in full.